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Category Archives: Social Media

What Is Consumer Social Networking and How It Can Benefit Your Business

Consumer social networking is harnessing the variety of social media available so consumers can determine the usefulness and value of a product. Not a few have turned to this sort of information sourcing to gather the whats and hows of a product. The reason largely lies on the strength of market feedback and the personalized touch seen in exclusive pages, which give consumers details they don’t normally receive in most other product ads. All income brackets and both genders participate in social consuming with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and Myspace taking their roles as leaders of this trend. With the vast market at their disposal and the efficiency with which they can reach out to this audience, businesses have much to gain from plumbing the potential of consumer social networking.

Expanded Customer Service

Customers are the fuel of any enterprise and social networks have done an extraordinary job in bringing together people from different walks of life, living locally and abroad, into one portal. Consumer social networking lets consumers address their questions and concerns about a product or service and lets the business respond timely in return. The range of feedback also gives the business a sampling of their market, providing the business leverage in knowing where to improve on and which of their marketing strategy works.

Advising Customers About New Products and Services

Reading a Twitter message doesn’t take 10 seconds but the site is popular enough to get a message across to a group who know another group and another group ad infinitum. A business web page can also be streamlined to highlight the freshest products and services it has to offer to its followers and possibly to others who are interested in its latest outing or teaser. Social networking sites gives businesses a platform to list down their advantages over competitors and highlight facets of the product that consumers are looking for.

A Way to Reward Consumers

Taking customer service a step further, businesses can use consumer social networking to reward customers who have been loyal to their products. Through specials or loyalty programs, businesses can attract more customers and keep the existing ones satisfied as they get to own not just their initial buy but more than what they expected. If they tell their friends and families about how cool a brand is for that, the better.

Introducing a Product Through Different Media

By using social networking sites, businesses can advertise products from photos to videos to write-ups. The additional feedback contributed by consumers adds to the knowledge of potential customers who might be looking for more reasons to convince them to finally purchase.

There are various ways to introduce a product and get in touch with customers but not every one of them may be effective. One way businesses can learn about this aspect is through consumer social networking which serves both a way to relate with customers and advertise a product. By taking advantage of this trend, businesses not only level with the customers but also share the good points of their product in more ways than one.

Julian Hartley is a social media consultant for one of the top talent management firm, DianliC.com.

 

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The toys we have on our iPhones

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Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I have always enjoyed technology but find something new every day. In writing my grocery list I noticed that my notepad on my iPhone has speech recognition software. Thinking myself very clever I composed a short note on my notepad and cut it and pasted it into a text message to send to my wife. Having thought this absolutely wonderful are you then cut a note and started to pasted into my WordPress blog. Much to my surprise I found that the blog site also house Word recognition software. Our iPhones grand.

You have to go through and edit some of the translations but generally this saves an immense amount of time. Especially if you are trying to type on an iPhone, I am no where as good as my kids are at that.

I always enjoyed writing blogs, but sometimes the act of typing takes longer than it takes for a thought to get out of my mouth.

With my new discovery I can speak as quickly as the thoughts enter my head and record them at the same time. People sitting next to me on the train might think I am talking into a robotic device but then after all I guess I am. This entire blog was my first attempt and written entirely on speech recognition software from an iPhone 4 ain’t excuse me. There have been no editing at all so excuse some of the grammar and misspellings but all in all I think this is a very valuable tool.

 

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The Significance of Lead Scoring in Marketing Automation

Marketing automation platforms – those that allow ‘dripped’ marketing by email, text message or another form of contact – have become incredibly popular as more consumers integrate the internet into their daily lives.

What is ‘Lead Scoring’?

Lead scoring refers to the process of choosing how close a lead is to purchasing based on where they are in the prospect cycle. For instance, if a prospect visits a website and spends two or three minutes browsing around before entering their email address into a form and leaving, they would likely score very low. Conversely, a prospect that has clicked through from a marketing email, browsed an online shop and added items to a shopping cart is likely very close to making a purchase, and would score much higher.

Motivating the Prospect to Take Action

Lead scoring is the best way to make marketing automation software work with high efficiency. Leads that are already close to purchasing or have made a purchase in the past are going to be turned off if they receive marketing material directed at cold prospects and brand new leads. By using a multi-step marketing campaign, leads can be coaxed to higher and higher scores and eventually converted when they are ready to purchase or end up making an impulse buy. Leverage marketing automation software to continually provide more and more motivation for the prospect to respond, and they will take action accordingly.

Creating a Long-Term Conversion Plan

The vast majority of prospects won’t convert the first or second time they are contacted. As a matter of fact, research suggests that prospects – especially those being contacted via email – may take up to ten or more contact points before they are converted into paying customers. This is where marketing automation software comes in handy; these automation platforms never forget about a prospect, and can be set to contact them with new content indefinitely. Invest the time and resources in creating a long-term contact and conversion plan for your prospects and with a few tweaks along the way it is sure to pay off.

Without a doubt, modern marketing automation software platforms offer marketers the ability to connect with leads and prospective customers far better than has been possible in the past. As long as campaigns are planned, executed, analyzed and optimized for improvement, there are few better ways to market to leads generated online.

John is a small business owner, and contributing writer for Aprimo marketing software.

 

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Why Flash and Animated Websites Can Be Bad for Business

by Chris Bolton

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I love special effects, video games, and Sci-Fi movies. But I can’t stand a slow-loading animated website when I’m trying to accomplish a purpose. If I’m trying to get some information or buy a product, I want the shortest distance between my mouse and my goal. This is why Flash websites can sometimes do more damage than good. Sure, you’ve got a goldfish swimming behind the article you’re trying to read and fireworks following every move of the cursor–that’s a nifty trick–but I can’t read anything on the site, and it takes forever for all the graphics to load.

Most people who work in the web-world know that Adobe Flash-based websites have numerous issues. They don’t work on manymobile devices; they load slow; they can’t be read by Google (which means they get poor search engine ranking).

That being said, what if there was a solution that worked better than Flash–something that loaded faster and played nice with Google? Would we all start building websites that snow, sparkle, flip upside down, and make burps when we click buttons?

Well, there are alternatives to Flash these days. HTML5 is the most promising, and as it is more widely adopted, you will see more websites with HTML5 animation. But this is where I think we need to pause . . .

Just because we have these tools doesn’t mean we should run out and start dousing our sites in animated menus, dancing puppies, and scrolling banners.

Here are 5 reasons I think you should think twice before creating a website that relies heavily on any kind of animated effects.

1. Shiny/Flashy/Moving Things are Distracting

Things that blink, buzz, and whir serve a good purpose. There is a reason why we have traffic signs that blink, sirens that scream, and alarm clocks that buzz. These things are designed to tear our attention away from whatever we were trying to do in the first place and PAY ATTENTION. This is never a pleasant experience. Ambulance sirens scare the hell out of me, but I’m generally forgiving because they are serving a public good. If your website starts screaming, talking, spinning, or blinking, it might just scare the hell out of me as well. But my reaction will not be so forgiving. In fact I will never go to your website again.

2. Slow Load Time

Even if you have super-fast internet, your fans and customers may not. You’ve got about 2 seconds to engage your audience before they click onto the next thing. Loading excess animations and video will slow down your site load time. Also, putting a video or song on your website is great, but don’t make it auto-play. If your visitor wants to watch or listen, they will push play and they will usually wait a reasonable about of time for it to load. But most users like to choose whether to watch a video or not.

3. Animations Often Force an Experience

The internet is full of options. People like options. If a fancy animation loads when you land on a website, you are forced to watch it before you can go on to what you were trying to accomplish. The perfect example of this is a “splash page.” This is a page that loads prior to landing on a homepage and usually features some kind of animation or ad. Now if I’m trying to locate a concert date, buy your eBook, or perform any other transaction on your site, a splash page serves a s a barrier between your site and my intended action. If I’m on a mobile phone it could break your website completely.

4. Inconsistent Mobile and Tablet Experiences

More and more people are using phones and tablets to access the internet and leaving their desktops to gather dust. Creating animations that work well on a big screen and a tiny phone screen is a tough challenge and it often fails. The best mobile experience, in my opinion, is a simple one. I’m usually in transit when I use my phone and I want my information fast. Ask yourself what you want people to do on your website and make that super easy to do on any device.

5. Search Ranking

Search engines, like Google, are great at reading text. They are not-so-great at reading images and animations. Sure, HTML5 will be easier for Google to handle then flash, but because of the potential for keyword stuffing and hidden text, words that are embedded in images will probably not be given the same weight as text on the page.

All this being said, I love special effects and animation and there are some awesome interactive websites that are exceptions to the rule because they are designed as a novelty or a multimedia experience. But if you’re trying to grow your fan base and readership and sell some merchandise, you don’t need special effects. You just need a great-looking website that is easy to use.

 

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What Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google) Can Teach You About a Successful Partnership

 

 

The partnership of Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized the way we access information on the web. Google is one of the most important companies of the 21st Century. Page and Brin took a college project and made it into an incredibly successful business. Along the way, they did it all together and remained equal partners in the development and management of Google. Their ability to work well together is what ultimately made Google great, and their example can teach us a thing or two about what makes a partnership successful.

Good Friends Make Good Partners

Sometimes people advise that you shouldn’t do business with your family or close friends. Page and Brin prove that business and personal don’t have to be so strictly divided. Page and Brin are not only great partners; they’re also very close friends. In their case, their business relationship and friendship began at just about the same time. As their business grew, so did their friendship. They show that a close personal relationship makes for a well-rounded and successful business partnership.
There are No Limits to What You Can Do Together

Page and Brin developed Google together, but their ambitions didn’t stop there. As they became so successful, they branched out and began working on lots of other projects together, too. For example, they’re working on ways to solve the energy crisis with alternative and renewable energy. When you have a good working partnership, it can be expanded to other pursuits. You aren’t limited to working together in your primary business, because the success you find together there can be found anywhere.
Take Full Advantage of Having Two Heads

They say “two heads are better than one,” and it’s true. Page was working on developing the Google search engine before ever meeting Brin, and it’s possible he could have done it alone. But having a partner made things easier, faster, and stronger. They both worked on the engine together equally, and they had better results because of it. Successful partners truly work together on projects. Rather than dividing the labor down the middle, they collaborate on all aspects in order to bring the strength of numbers to every product and part of the business.
Benefits of a Larger Support Network

When Page and Brin were first starting Google and working out of their dorm rooms, as college students they certainly lacked the capital to fully realize their business goals. They looked to their friends and family members to invest money in them. Successful partners realize the benefits of having twice the outside support and connections. Successful partners utilize all the resources of both partners.
Challenge Each Other

Perhaps one of the best aspects of a successful partnership is that each partner can challenge the other. Page and Brin actually disagree quite a lot, and their disagreements challenge them to come up with new solutions and really refine their products. Rather than letting their differing styles ruin their partnership, they appreciate their differences and use them to benefit their company.

Charlie Adams is a tech guru and internet expert who loves to blog about his interests. To ensure all his writing is professional and adheres to the strictest grammar rules he always proofs it with a grammar checker prior to letting anyone read it.

 

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3 Simple Marketing Ideas You Need to Start Doing For Your Business

One thing I’ve never heard anyone complain about is having too many sales. Now, your business can certainly grow more quickly than you expected, and you may have to find ways to scale it and keep up, but in all actuality, who isn’t looking to boost sales a bit?

There are some things that you can do right this very moment that can help increase your brand awareness, and pull customers in from sources that you otherwise may not have.

Here are 3 simple ideas that you can implement into your marketing plan immediately:

1. Start using coupon sites. This is a strategy that I started awhile back, after I started inserting coupon codes on some of the standard business promotion sites, like Manta and Merchant Circle, offering discounts on orders at my website. When I saw the codes being used by my customers quite frequently, I decided to see where else I could place coupons for my company.

Do a search for coupon sites in your favorite search engine, and start visiting these pages. Some of them have quirky hoops that you need to jump through in order to get a coupon listed, but many of them allow just about anyone to add a coupon for any store, both online and offline. Some of my favorites that I have seen some good return on, and were easy to submit my coupon codes to, are 247coupon.com, hotfrog, retailmenot.com, and coupon chief.

2. Start Pinning on Pinterest. Ok, so this is a simple marketing strategy that you should be using if your particular niche is catered to women. Pinterest is an image-sharing platform that has taken social media by storm. 90% of its users are female.

Create a pin board, using product images and other interesting content, in hopes that it will go viral. Infographics, which are a hot marketing tool, are great for pushing out on Pinterest.

3. Start “thanking” your customers. Well, you should be doing this literally all the time. However, do you ever make that extra effort to wow your customers?

Show them how much you appreciate their business, and surprise them with complimentary items when they place a big order with you. Also be sure to take care of the customers that have been loyal to you for a long time. They may place smaller orders, but the fact that they have consistently done so for a few years, certainly deserves recognition with a small token of your appreciation. Sending a “thank you” note, along with a gift card for gas, movies, coffee or books, in their order or out-of-the-blue, will go a long way with a customer.

Gestures like this will be remembered by them when it comes time to reorder, and one of your competitors is offering a better price. Many consumers will go with a business they feel comfortable with, and who they know will treat them well, even if it means paying a few dollars more. It can also help to smooth things over a bit if/when there may be a customer service problem in the future.

I know there are many other things that go into a marketing plan, but start implementing these tactics, and I guarantee you’ll start attracting more buyers.

John Ehlenbeck is a small business owner, and contributing writer for Aprimo Marketing Automation Software.

 

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Print Design vs. Web Design – Which Channel is Best to Market Your Business

 

Both print and web design are important to the growth of a business today but prioritising one over the other is dependent on your business needs. Newspapers and magazines have had to adjust their methods of doing business as the internet has increased in popularity but they have not disappeared. However, you now can find online versions of newspapers called advertorials.

Targeting different customers

If you run your own business, it is important to invest in both: online (web) and offline (print). A website is open and available 24 hours a day to inform and possibly sell to your customers. However, not everyone may be looking for your business online. For example if you are a retailer and many of your customers are older than 50 or 60 (not being discriminatory), they may not be surfing the web and instead will be reading their local newspaper and therefore will see adverts placed by local businesses.

Print characteristics

Print design has certain characteristics, different to web.  The space is generally measured inches and the area can be anywhere from a business card to a street billboard.  It is important to have a bleed around each printing piece but the best part about print is the design will look the same to everyone who sees it.  Page layouts are static designs unlike on the web. Printing will be done in CMYK colours and all images will be in tiff and eps format.

Designing for the web

All images for the web will be in a different format to those for printing offline. They are in a jpeg, gif or png and tend to have a lower resolution than those for print, otherwise it may take too long to load the web page.  With web design, as the pages are more fluid and dynamic, you will need to ensure the site or graphic you are designing  looks good on all monitors and resolutions.  Colours are displayed in RGB, so check there is a CMYK equivalent so that you can use the same colour offline.

Staying within the budget

If you are small company and cannot afford to have two companies working on your web and print design, then you need to make sure what you have on your website can be easily translated into print.  It goes back to having good standard branding for your site. Your audience has to be able to recognise your logo clearly whether it is offline or on the web. If you are thinking about asking a web designer to handle all of your print work as well, be sure to look at the print samples before you sign off the work. Your website and print collateral represents you and your business.

There are many companies throughout Australia which offer photocopying services, business card and brochure printing.  For printing in Brisbane, visit your local printing company.

 

 

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Cisco to Invest Millions in Insieme

In the past couple of years, Cisco has been on the move to create solutions for simple cloud transitioning for business and large corporations. After creating a coalition with EMC and VMware, VBlock was created as a rack to simply transition company networks to private cloud networks. Now in another step to create the need for simple cloud integration, Cisco has funded an advanced start-up company known as Insieme for $100 million. However, another condition in the advance is the option to later purchase Insieme for an additional $750 million.

 

Purchasing the Asset:

The advance to Insieme was not just an investment opportunity. Founded by 3 Cisco employees, Insieme was created for later purchase by Cisco. This is known as a “spin-in” company. The reasoning behind spin-in companies is to create products and services that benefit the parent companies. This allows for the separate identity to be purchased later to boost a company’s portfolio.

As Cisco has been concentrating on cloud computing and the abilities within business networks, the Insieme purchase only makes sense. Insieme’s development in S.D.N. or software-defined networking is closely related and highly beneficial to what Cisco has been doing. Insieme’s internal program will play an important part in Cisco’s programmable framework. As cloud transitioning increases in ease and scalability, the S.D.N. will assist in the future launches of Cisco products to create a software based cloud integration solution.

The Future of Cisco:

There has been a lot of speculation as to who will be the leader in S.D.N. With mention of Cisco, Juniper Networks, Alcatel, and NEC, the race is on to claim the number one spot. However, with 70% of the world’s networks running Cisco products, they may have a head start. With their new easy installation cloud products, these companies currently running Cisco products will be able to slide in a new rack, program the private cloud network and easily implement S.D.N.

Current employees of Cisco are torn regarding the purchase of Insieme. As the most valuable employees will be positioned to become multimillionaires with little risk, others will only be able to watch as it happens. However, the purchase of Insieme will still increase Cisco stocks and lead the way to innovations that will put the company ahead of the others in S.D.N. development and sales.

Two other spin-in companies have been created for Cisco. They purchased Andiamo Systems in 2004 for $750 million and Nuova Systems in 2009 for $678 million. Each of these companies benefitted Cisco by quickly placing them into markets they weren’t previously in. Andiamo Systems allowed Cisco to break into the storage-related switch market as Nuova allowed Cisco to develop and sell its own line of computer servers. With the increasing success of these spin-in companies, it begs to question “Will this be the future of business?”

Joshua Harper is a tech writer and contributes reviews on networking devices such as the Cisco SFP transceiver to various tech blogs.

 

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Going viral: from 350 to 135,000 readers a day

Recently one of my blog articles (A Dog’s Purpose? from a 6-year-old) went “viral” and in one week, had 335,000 hits.

One can never predict the reaction of the Internet, but your next article could be the one.  Who knows?  The point is that if you don’t set up a Social Network, maintain it regularly, and generate good content, it is sure not to happen.  I have to admit, it took me two years to grow the circulation from zero to around 350 readers a day.  When this article was first published it started with a few readers.  The next day it was around a hundred, the next 500, then 2,500, and then on a Friday it soared to 135,000 readers in a single day.

The amount of positive feedback we have had is amazing, and my business has never been better, time to re-staff.  The moral of the story is that attraction marketing is not an overnight sensation, but a process.  It takes time to build trust, and a brand, but if you stick with it, it works!

In my consulting business I work with business owners to integrate social media and internet publishing to generate interest and drive prospects to their websites, and make sure the sites are optimized to convert prospects into customers.  I would love to discuss some improvements to your business, at no charge, if you are interested.  Feel free to drop me a line by email @ steve@bayintegratedmarketing.com  http://www.bayintegratedmarketing.com  and please if you haven’t yet, please join my LinkedIn network at: http://linkd.in/IPwsK7v 

 

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Start-Up Business Advertising – Online or Offline?

In the past, advertising was regulated to television and print media. However, with the invention of the internet, there is an entire new sphere with which to consume content and advertise to clients. For business with a website, there are an abundance of advertising and marketing tools at your disposal for generating new business.

It doesn’t matter if you sell products online or not, the internet is still an excellent way to attract new business. In fact when it comes to online versus offline advertising, research shows that using the internet is far more advantageous for new businesses than traditional methods.

Creative Versus Directional Advertising

Creative advertising involves billboards, radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. These are considered offline methods, and have traditionally been known as “creative.” This is not to imply the advertising is imaginative or artistic. Creative in this sense means creating interest in your product. As the consumer had never intended to come across your product, you are in a sense creating interest.

Directional advertising is a term used for online advertising, as the intent is typically to direct your marketing efforts at a particular group that has either made a search query or visited a particular product page. In other words, contrary to creative advertising, the consumers here are already interested in purchasing something, and are looking for a relevant item.

Targeted Marketing

With offline advertising there is some targeting involved, as you can market to a particular base or genre. For example, if you sell women’s hygiene products, you would advertise in magazines that have a large female subscriber base as opposed to a men’s health magazine. Nevertheless, this is an imperfect strategy, and you are never going to target the specific client you are looking for. On the internet you have far more specialization and can place your advertisements only on relevant websites. Furthermore, you can use search functions to find clients who are actively searching for your product.

What the internet provides is a more efficient advertising strategy that markets by location and keywords as opposed to casting a wide net and hoping to find potential clients. This also presents a cheaper alternative given that the number of people you are advertising to will be less, even as the number of relevant consumers you reach increases. For example, a magazine or television show will charge you based on the number of readers or viewers they receive. There is nothing to distinguish how many of those people are potential customers, yet you will be charged all the same. Conversely, with online advertising, the numbers will be much smaller but will also be better targeted. Moreover, online content itself is cheaper to produce. All of this adds to being able to advertise more effectively in terms of cost and strategy, something that is essential to new businesses.

Content and Research

In addition to more efficient advertising, in recent years the amount of content that is shown online has rapidly increased. Newspapers and magazines are even making the shift to the world wide web, and more consumers are using the internet to consume news and entertainment.

However, the internet also serves as an important reference for those looking to research products before buying them. 9 out of every 10 consumers will visit a product page and read customer feedback on an item before purchasing them offline. It is important that you monitor what people are saying online and address any concerns your consumers may have. Using a company page on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will help you market and provide customer service directly, and avoid having to fight to display your business at the top of search engine. Conversely, you would have to pay a substantial cost to get premium advertising space offline.

Cliff Hill writes on behalf of PublicLiabilityInsurance.org (Click here to visit) an online resource for business owners providing self employed insurance.

 

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